Month: November 2014

Penguins of Madagascar

You know, those Penguins in the Madagascar movies are the only characters that have not worn out their welcome. Someone should make a movie about them….. And boom, we have it. Now as the idea of the Penguins of Madagascar came out I thought “Oh come on now, do we really need this? This is nothing more than a cash grab!” But then something happened, a trailer came out, and I became very excited! Did you see that thing? It looked so cool! So my enthusiasm skyrocketed! And so this Thanksgiving, I decided, after both my Cowboys and Longhorns had let me down, I needed something up beat, something fun. Time for the Penguins!

The Penguins of Madagascar tells the story of Madagascar’s break out characters, penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private, as they set out on their own spy thriller adventure. In the continuity the film takes place after Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, and has near nothing in common with the television series despite the characters and name. It is directed by Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell, and stars the voices of Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, and Ken Jong.

Unfortunately this was not the film I was looking for. It had a lot of cute moments, and it was ok, and if you have kids they are going to love it that’s for sure. While the original film series did a good job of incorporating these characters I think the stick gets a little old when they are thrust in their own hour and a half film. The show worked well because it it’s only 23 minutes or so, you get a good little run with the Penguins, however in an hour and half they run a little tired.

The story basically follows Private in his attempt to prove his worth all in while an Octopus from the Penguins past attempts to extract his revenge on the penguins for a lifetime of pain they once caused him. It plays out like a long version of an episode of the show. I chuckled a little throughout the film, nothing that really had me rolling or that I’d be quoting this film whatsoever. I honestly even almost fell asleep one or two times. The characters are fine, including the newbies, but that’s it, they are just fine. There is nothing memorable about it. I think they have just taken this too far.

All that said, that is not to say that it is not a cute film. Going with a Jeebus Score of 3.4 Check out the Matinee, but that said only do so if you have kids or a nephew or niece that wants to see it, because they will get a big kick out of it.

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Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Mockingjay Part 1

When The Hunger Games first came out, I said eh, I’m not the target audience, a teeny bopper version of Stone Cold and The Condemned? Not interested. When Catching Fire came out I said, well what the hell, I’ll give it a try. And the moment that film cuts out with Jennifer Lawrence staring at the camera, I was screaming for more. I had finally watched the first one right before, and felt a little eh about it. But Catching Fire hooked me in. I have been ready and waiting for this two part finale! But what was it going to be for me, another hit like the 2nd, or back to the first? Well, I’ll tell ya, it was, slow.

Mockingjay Part 1 is once again directed by Francis Lawrence who took over for Gary Ross after the first installment, and brings back Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Little Thor (Liam Hemsworth) Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Sam Claflin, along with adding in Julianne Moore. The film continues the story of Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) a reluctant symbol of a massive rebellion after surviving not one, but two years of the dreaded and deadly Hunger Games. Can she ignite the nation and lead them against the Capitol? And what about Peta? Has he really turned his back and does he really believes in the Capitol? Can Katniss save him, and the other victors?

The film is good, the problem is this trend of splitting the third books into 2 films. Twilight, Harry freaking Potter, thanks a lot. While Mockingjay is the shortest of the 3 Hunger Games books, it really hurts the film to split it. After Catching Fire I was really hyped and ready to see Katniss kick a lot of @$$, but sadly, the scene they have promoted so much I the trailers of her shooting down the jet with an arrow (which is much more believable within the context of the film) is really the only scene of action in the entire film. This installment plays out like a propaganda war. With the Rebels using Katniss to film commercials and videos, and the Capitol using Peta, trying to convince the districts whose side to be back. There is a lot of story and exposition and it is all set to build up to the next film. Perhaps I would have liked it more had I been able to watch Part 1 and part back to back rather than wait an entire year.

But with all that like I said, it’s not a bad film, just not what I was expecting. I was all set for the action and not ready for the story. The story seems like it’s going to be great once the back half plays out, it just seems a little stale by itself, however it is well played out. The characters, while a lot of them, are all acted incredibly. Lawrence shows us once again how incredible she really is. Claflin returning as Finnick is given so much more heart and emotion. I even really liked Little Thor, who in the past when given major roles has kind of come out short. And while the film can be very slow and drag at times, it honestly set you up and get ready for next year when Part 2 arrives. It is the journey that makes the film so fun.

Being someone who hasn’t read any of the books, I was a little lost not knowing how Mockingjay played out, my buddy assured me it was exactly how he had envisioned it and that Part 2 was really set up beautifully. So while Mockingjay Part 1 may not have played out how I expected it, I still call it a Good time at the theater, with a Jeebus score of 4.3.

Chef

So this one isn’t a new release, but I just got around to watching it so I wanted to put up a review for it. Chef. Written, directed, produced, and starring Jon Favreau. Alongside Favreau Chef stars John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr. And I just got to say, Leave it to Favreau to assemble such an ensemble cast, as well as write himself a character that has an ex wife played by Sofia Vergara and a love interest played by Scar Jo. Nice one Jon.

So Chef follows the story of Los Angeles Chef Carl Casper (Favreau) who after a twitter war between a himself and a major food critic (Platt) goes viral and culminates in a video outburst by Casper, quits his job and ends up on a trip with ex-wife and son to Miami. While in Miami he is pushed to get a food truck that he fixes up and begins a journey back to LA making stops along the way bonding with his son and getting back to the basics of what made him the chef he was.

The story is pretty cool and plays out well. It is interesting and fun to follow. And in a way a metaphor for Favreau himself. He said about writing this film he wanted to get back to basics after the major motion pictures he had been putting out. The direction is greatly on par, and the plays out well. It is really just a fun film to watch. A heartwarming story about a father and son, mixed together with a road trip and a cooking fun that’ll make you hungry for more!

The story is very social media heavy too. And it helps push the film, and makes it realistic. We are in an age where everything is social media driven, where every company has a twitter, an instragram, a Facebook, all of that. Something I try to take advantage of and this film gives me hope, so shameless plug in the middle of a review, retweet, and send out my reviews. Go down to the bottom of this and comment a little. It helped out Carl Casper, maybe it’ll help me.

The cast is a lot of fun and well put together. While most like Dustin Hoffman and RDJ are small roles, they are all great characters. RDJ obviously plays himself. And Hoffman is on his game for the few scenes he has. ScarJo is always fun on camera, and is just stunningly beautiful. And I’ll tell you this, I love John Leguizamo. Every film he’s in, I always love to see him pop up. Like I’ve always said, I loved Super Mario Bros, and he was Luigi! Favreau.

There really wasn’t much I didn’t like about it, not that it is the best movie of the year, or an Oscar worthy film or performances, but there are just aren’t really many negatives. I think if I really sat and thought about it I might be able to come up with some, but they’d probably be nitpicky, and I don’t want to just pull out something you didn’t like just for the sake of telling you something bad about it. If you really want me to pull something out, I’d say maybe there is a disappearance of ScarJo halfway thru the film, and there isn’t any real closure or development with the character. Other than Leguizamo’s character, Casper, and Casper’s son played by Emjay Anthony, no other character really gets any kind of development or story arch. But, that’s it. Sorry. Best I got for you.

So while I didn’t have any negatives, we end up with a very fun film, I gave it a Jeebus score of 4.5, would have been a Good time at the theater! So get on On Demand, or go out and buy it on DVD, Chef, a great film.

Dumb & Dumber To

One of the greatest comedies of all time, a classic, Dumb & Dumber, is finally getting its sequel. Did it need one? Some say it did, some say leave it be. I personally was up for seeing these characters revisited. The Farrelly brothers return to direct Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the dimwitted yet good hearted duo of Lloyd and Harry return to go on a new adventure, 20 years after their original trip to Aspin Colorado. This time they are in search of Harry’s long lost daughter he never knew he had. The trailers have not hit home with me as much as I liked, but I had hoped that was only because they chose to do what other comedies do not, and hold the laughs off for the film. So did it work? Well, I’d say, eh. Kinda?

Let’s look at what they did right with the film. The best part of it, is revisiting these characters. As the film starts you are thrust back into this world with Harry and Lloyd and it’s almost like you never left. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels jump back into these characters like they’ve been doing it for regularly for the past 20 years. Their interaction together is great. The chemistry between these two is unbelievable. Rob Riggle is really good in it too. I don’t know what it is about that guy, but I crack up anytime he walks on scene. Chandler’s dad (Kathleen Turner) is pretty functional as Friada Felcher, Harry’s long lost baby mama.

The Marketing department did a great job too, I did not watch any trailers after the first one they released, but they do a good job not showing their cards. The laughs hit hard, when they do. But there are stretches when they are trying to set up a joke that falls flat. But that is not to say the film is not hilarious. There were times that I was on the floor laughing, barely able to contain myself.

But there are definitely some issues with Dumb & Dumber To. While the first film, you weren’t watching it for the story, and this one is the same. The story itself is weak, and almost plot point the same as the first. The long lost daughter that they are on the search for could have been casted better. She was very one dimensional. And the third act the film really falls apart. It is not at all about what makes us want to see these films, what we want is Harry and Lloyd, and in the third act the film stops being about them and tries to be something else. The film could benefitted from another pass at the editing room too.

All in all, I am glad this film came out. It was fun to see these guys again bringing these iconic rolls roles back to the big screen. The cameos are fun, especially one you really have to pay attention to see, Chive On. When I went to score the film I gave it a 3.7, with a .2 bonus for Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels bringing these characters back to us. All together that gives Dumb & Dumber to a Jeebus score of 3.9, Check out the Matinee.

Big Hero 6

Disney/Marvel has released their first animated property in Big Hero 6. Now just to be honest, I have not seen Wreck it Ralph, or Frozen, making Big Hero 6 the first of Disney animated films I have watched in a long time. And to add just a little more, besides The Lego Movie it’s really the only new animated film I have seen is a very long time. Didn’t see the 2 How to Train your Dragons, or the Despicable Me films. So I don’t have much to judge on. That said, putting Big Hero 6 up against The Lego Movie and all other films this year, it ranks pretty high.

Big Hero 6 stars an ensemble voice cast of Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, T.J. Miller, Daniel Henney, and Maya Rudolph. It is directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams and is loosely based on the Marvel Comics of the same name. I say loosely because the writers took some liberties and changed a lot from the comics, which is not a bad a thing. I think it helps bring the characters to a broader audience.

Set in the fictional town of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 follows the story of a young robotics prodigy named Hiro Hamada (Potter) who after a tragic accident at a science convention loses his brother. Hero befriends his brothers robotic nurse invention named Baymax (Adsit), and the two are thrust in a mystery where he along with his brother’s robotic school class mates to stop a villain hell-bent on revenge.

The story seems nearly generic, but the film does a great job flipping it on its side with a very simple but out of nowhere twist. Which makes for a very intriguing script. The cast is pretty basic, but that’s expected. I’m not one who needs a big name cast in animated films. Let the trained voice actors do their jobs. However this cast is very functional. I would call T.J. Miller the break out voice, his character Fred is a very fun. As far as the characters go they are pretty cliché aside from Hiro and Baymax. But that is also to be expected. The most lovable and memorable character will definitely be Baymax. This lovable robot makes you just want to hug him. I left the theater wanting this robot for my own nurse! Although the characters can kind of seem generic, you do still connect to them. And the film draws you in. I even teared up a good amount in it.

There a few problems with the pacing of the film. The beginning of the film is very into character development with its main character and his brother, and in the 2nd act it can seem to be a little slow. Even its training montage is not as fun as you would like it to be. But as the twist begins to take us into its 3rd act, the film randomly jumps into its action pact finale. Also, even though it is an animated film, the villain is pretty one dimensional. I’m not saying we needed Koki, but a little more character development wouldn’t of hurt.

The visuals of the film are stunning though. The city of San Fransokyo transports you to a place that seems not only foreign, but familiar as well. You can see that Disney Animation and Pixar are truly merging into one incredible company. An example of this merger is ever so clear in the pre film short entitled Feast that follows a puppy and his enormous appetite and love for his master. True story, you’re going tear up before Big Hero 6 even starts, and if you don’t, you probably don’t have a soul. I didn’t watch this in 3D because I rend to not like 3D, however I could imagine this might be a good one to see in 3D if you are someone who likes it, or can tolerate on a case by case bases.

All in all I really enjoyed Big Hero 6 all though not as much as The Lego Movie. I’m giving it a Jeebus score of 5.0, with a .2 bonus for its surprise cameo that you really have to pay attention to see. That brings us to a 5.2, Multiple Viewings Required. And one final bit of advice, when you do go to see it, make sure you sit through those credits, because hey, this is a Marvel film after all……..

The Event known as INTERSTELLAR

Nolanites rejoice. The time is upon us. The highly, HIGHLY anticipated Christopher Nolan film Interstellar. I was privileged enough to catch an early showing of the film, in 35 MM FILM. They way Nolan has intended it to be shown. Now this is going to be a very difficult film to review. The beauty of the film is that going into it, you know very little. You have a basic understanding of the plot, and we know the top billed stars. Other than that the film was shrouded in mystery. Now please excuse me while I rant a little, but, in my youth, that’s how film was. We didn’t have scoops, or set photos, or plot details. One night you’d be at the theater, and you’d see a trailer, and that is what you had to go on. Today there is all sorts of scoops and stories, and while it’s fun, and entertaining, it takes away some mystery. Some mystery that Nolan has brought back to us. The best thing about Nolan’s Interstellar is exactly what most of its cast has told us. It’s not a film, it is an event.

Now let’s look at the surface of the Interstellar. Written, directed, and produced by Nolan, it stars the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, and mystery actor. The story falls in a world where we have lost everything. Our food source is withering away, and we live in a practical dustbowl. When circumstances lead Cooper (McConaughey) to a voyage to save our dying race, he must race against time, space, and ethics to save us, or find his way back home.

Sound generic? It is not I assure you. Interstellar is riddled with theories and stories. It nearly plays out as three separate films. Act I II and III could all pan out to play as their own movies. The acting is spot on. McConaughey is on his way to another nomination, and perhaps trophy. Chastain is on her game, as is Caine. The breakout performance is done by McConaughey’s onscreen daughter, Mackenzie Foy. She is incredible! There is a surprise cameo role that I knew nothing about. I’m not going to blow it, and if you read the cast list you might find it. The cameo role got me so good, I gave Interstellar a .3 bonus.

Interstellar is very thought provoking. About what is out there, are we meant to go on? It never tries to be a message for you that this is fact, just a vision of an opinion. Nolan does a great job telling the story and leaves you thinking. You will walk out of this one with a lot to talk about. I know my brother and I stood in the parking lot for a good 20 minutes discussing the film. And we could have gone on for hours.

No film is perfect, they have their flaws and this one does too. The pacing can be off at times. Not to the point that the film drags, while you feel every minute of its 2 hour and 45 minute run time, it is not slow. It just seems to jump around a lot. From intense, to long winded exposition. And the exposition can get very confusing. I’m not one for quantum physics and space odyssey theories. While the script took nearly a decade working its facts, and scientific authenticity, to the layman it can be very confusing. Luckily I had my brother with me who is very into the worm hole and black hole theories, so after the film could fill me in some. But be prepared, where as in Nolan’s Inception if you pay close enough attention you can follow it, this one can get a little tricky.

So that’s it, without any spoilers, the best I can give you. Because this is a film you need to go into blind. Not knowing the story that lies ahead or what is in your future during those 2 hour and 45 minutes. I scored Interstellar 5.9 with a .3 bonus for its surprise casting, giving it a 6.2, JEEBUS-TACULAR. So go blindly into the film, if you are looking for something like the old days of my youth, grab your best gal and head to the cinema this Friday night. Don’t go for drinks or dinner before, save that for after. Because you are going to have a lot to talk about after this one.

Marvel with the Phase 3 Knockout Punch

So back in 2008 Marvel and DC really started swinging. DC took a few jabs and hooks in the early rounds, with the Dark Knight trilogy, but nothing devastating. Marvel really started to wear them down with the beginning of Phase II. Yea DC got a knock down with Man of Steel, but Marvel was up by 4 count. It was late in the fight when Marvel hit DC hard with uppercut called Guardians of The Galaxy. They seemed content to with the points in the bag and they’d just wait out the fight, win by decision. DC started swinging for the fences, boom, Justice League and an entire slate of films. DC was going for the knock out. Until to day, when we all realized Marvel was just rocking the rope-a-dope, and kaboom. Knockout punch. Marvel is the reigning champ.

So when DC released their slate of films in their shareholders meeting it was pretty cool. Named off their upcoming properties, got everyone excited, but in true Marvel fashion they upped the game at completely out of nowhere press event. Disney sent out invitations on Monday inviting media outlets and film pundits to come to a special Marvel Event at the El Capitan Theater. They spent the day dropping their Phase III plans that will cumulate in a 2 part Avengers Infinity War film extravaganza.

The upcoming Phase III reads like this:

  • Captain America 3: Civil War on May 6 2016
  • Doctor Strange on November 4 2016
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017
  • Thor 3: Ragnarok on July 28 2017
  • Black Panther(Starring Chadwick Bosewick) on November 3 2017
  • Avengers: Infinity War part 1 in May 2018
  • Captain Marvel on July 6 2018
  • Inhumans on November 2 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 on May 3 2019

So that’s what we have to look forward too. Before we get into what this all means let’s first look at what is missing. Iron Man 4. Not that it is needed. But it’s odd that it’s not there. And I do not know what the new picture deal is the Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel have come too, but I’d assume it includes both Avengers, Captain America, and either Black Panther, or Guardians 2. I think Black Panther makes more sense, but I’d love to see him Guardians.

Also missing is your solo Hulk film. No personally I don’t think we need a solo Hulk film. Yes the Ed Norton film The Incredible Hulk was good, but not as good as Hulk was in Avengers. However when asked about another solo film for the big ball of rage, Kevin Fiege replied:

“I wouldn’t say Hulk is absent from the timeline. I’d say Hulk is going to appear in many of those movies, particularly all the Avengers movies leading up to the Infinity War. Mark Ruffalo is on board for all those films and we’re excited for all those films. What happens with a standalone Hulk film? I’m going to say what I would have said about Black Panther last week or Captain Marvel before that, or Guardians of the Galaxy two years ago or Ant-Man ten years ago: We’ll see. We’d love to do it, we’d love to find a place to put it, but right now Hulk will be appearing with his friends in the other films.

So looks like we won’t be getting the big guy by himself, but that’s not to say we won’t be getting him. Where he will show up is anybody’s guess.

Well that leaves us with an exciting couple of years ahead of us. With as much as they gave us, they Marvel has also created more questions. Like when we will see Hulk. As well we will be looking for casting, who is Captain Marvel? Katee Sackoff? Is Benedict Cumberbatch Dr. Strange? Who will the Inhumans line up, will Black Bolt be a part of it? Is Vin Diesel going to be Black Bolt? Where will Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. play in all of this? How about the Netflix characters? Will they be a part of this? Dare Devil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist? So many questions, so much to come!

Let’s look at Civil War first. The rumor says that after the events of Age of Ultron the government will be coming down on our heroes. And rightfully so. Looks like Iron Man has created the world’s biggest threat, based on something Ant Man began! So who should the Heroes of the world answer too? Welt he government obviously. And I would assume Stark is going to agree do to the creation of Ultron. You know who won’t agree? The worlds number 1 Boy Scout Captain America. This will further the rift between the leading heads of the Avengers and set them on a path that ends shield to flight stabilizer. With Black Panther caught right in the middle. But that’s not all. I predict, rightfully so, that Black Widow, Falcon, and Hawkeye will play crucial parts. But that’s not all. I bet War Machine/Iron Patriot makes his presence felt, as well as, wait for it, The Winter Soldier. That’s right. I’m where else does he fit in? He has to be involved in some potential.

Rumor for Strange says that Benedict Cumberbatch is close to signing. Well so was Phoenix. So I won’t put all my eggs in that basket just yet. I’m ok with the casting, but just okay. Seems like Cumberbatch is up for any and every role, and while I like him, and he’s obvious, I’d love something out of left field. Someone no one is expecting. The introduction of Strange will be significant. Especially if we want an eventual Planet Hulk. Maybe a phase 4 set on World War Hulk?

Black Panther is the one we as fans have been clambering for the most. And finally we will be getting it! And with Chadwick Bozeman no less! I think this is inspiring casting! I loved him in 42, I loved him Glory Road, he played Boobie Miles! And he was The Funk! He is one of the best! His inclusion in this universe really adds another level of talent! Looks like we will be getting hiom first in Civil War, probably without much character development, and we will probably get the real look at him when Black Panther hits us! The concept art is bad ass! BlackPanther If that doesn’t scream awesome, I don’t know what does!

Not much else is known about the other projects. Guardians 2 will look to recapture the magic, while Thor 3 will set us on the path to the Infinity War. Infinity War will be really interesting. Especially with the comments on how the Avenger line up will be forever changed after Age of Ultron. I expect the original line up, and the Guardians not to really make their presence felt until Part 2 in 2019.

However, all though Marvel has knocked out DC with this one, you best believe, DC is prepping for the rematch. We are looking at 30ish superhero films and shows in the next 6 years. The fight will continue, and no matter what happens, I think it is us fans who are the true winners.